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Greg Leon testifies in his defense, judge dismisses motion for mistrial

Defendant Greg Leon took the stand on Thursday, arguing that he shot Arturo Bravo Santos in self defense. Leon says he had no suspicion that his wife was cheating.

LEXINGTON, S.C. — A Lexington restaurant owner charged with murder testified in his own defense today. Greg Leon is on trial, accused of killing his wife’s lover on Valentine's Day 2016. 

Leon spent hours on the stand rehashing details of the weeks leading up to the shooting, as well as the moment where he says he found out his wife was cheating and claims he shot Arturo Bravo Santos in self defense. Before he left the crime scene, Leon testifies he looked at his wife, asking “What the f*** have you done?”

While answering questions from defense attorney Jack Swerling, Leon testified he had thought his wife was caught up in drugs because she seemed had lost weight and seemed depressed. 

Leon says he’d money was missing from thee safe at their home. Once trial preparation got underway, Leon testifies he learned she had taken about $50,000. Before learning that in discovery, however, Leon said he didn't know the exact amount, but could tell that money was missing.

When he confronted his wife, Leon said she snapped at him. 

On Feb. 14, 2016, Leon says he tracked Rachel Leon and assumed she was involved in a drug deal when he saw she was in a parking lot alone. He followed her there and found her in the backseat of a truck with Santos, who Leon says he immediately recognized as a regular customer in his restaurant. 

Leon says Santos looked at him and threatened to kill him before reaching toward the front seat. Leon says he was scared for his life — and his wife’s life— so he fired four shots.

Then, prosecuting attorney Rick Hubbard cross-examined Leon. The state believes this wasn’t self-defense, and instead a pre-meditated killing. 

Hubbard spent his time casting doubt on Leon’s testimony, wondering why Leon didn’t call friends, family or law enforcement if he suspected he was interrupting a dangerous drug deal. Then, Hubbard asked about Rachel Leon’s role in all of this.

The defendant testified that if Rachel had been a good wife and hadn’t cheated on him, then none of this would have happened.

All of this came after Judge Walton McLeod denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial Thursday morning.

The defense began the day arguing that Dr. Janice Ross’s testimony from last week took them by surprise when the forensic pathologist changed her opinion about the victim’s arm being raised on the night of the killing.

Ross said Santos' arm was not raised, which was different from her initial report while conducting the autopsy seven years ago. This new revelation undermined Leon’s argument that he acted in self-defense.

Leon's lawyer argued for the mistrial, using "the Brady rule" as the legal basis. Swerling said they were not aware of this change and that it was prejudicial.

The prosecution argued that it also did not know about this change in opinion until moments before Ross gave her testimony. The state also countered that the defense was able to impeach the witness and attack her credibility while she was still on the stand, and will also have the chance to bring in their own forensic pathologist to provide a countering opinion.

Judge McLeod ultimately dismissed the motion, saying the defense was given sufficient additional time to deal with this unexpected opinion. 

Court will resume Friday at 9 a.m. with more witness testimony for the defense.

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